Cruel child burials fees AXED after heartbroken parents left facing massive bills to bury their little ones
The costs of child burials and cremations are to be waived in England to bring them in line with Wales, the prime minister has announced.
Theresa May announced a Children’s Funeral Fund to help the thousands of parents struggling to pay the huge bills associated with burying their young children.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris led a campaign to axe the child burial fees and end what she called a ‘cruel postcode lottery’ that left some parents facing massive costs.
The MP for Swansea East lost her son Martin – aged just eight – in 1989 and she has worked tirelessly since to secure today’s victory.
Mrs Harris, the MP for Swansea East, lost her son Martin – aged just eight – in 1989.
And she has worked tirelessly to lead the campaign – which has picked up massive cross-party backing – and secure today’s victory.
After several letters from Mrs Harris to Mrs May, the PM finally decided the time was right to make the move and introduce a Children’s Funeral Fund.
It means none of the thousands of families who lose a child every year will have to face the heartbreak of funeral costs.
In a statement The Prime Minister said: “No parent should ever have to endure the unbearable loss of a child – a loss that no amount of time will ever truly heal.
“But in the raw pain of immediate loss, it cannot be right that grieving parents should have to worry about how to meet the funeral costs for a child they hoped to see grow into adulthood.
“I have been incredibly moved by the dignity and strength of campaigners like Caroyln Harris, who lost her own son Martin when he was just eight years old.
“Carolyn has passionately argued for a Children’s Funeral Fund to spare grieving families the burden of meeting funeral costs.
“In the darkest moment of any parent’s life there is little light – but there can be support.
“That is why I have asked for the Children’s Funeral Fund to be set up in England.
“For Carolyn, in memory of her son Martin, and in support of all those parents overwhelmed by such harrowing loss.”
Under the scheme, to be formally announced in the Autumn Budget, parents will no longer have to meet the costs of burials or cremations.
Every local authority in England will waive fees and the government will meet the bill.
Each year, an estimated 4,350 children under the age of 18 die.
And heartbroken parents were left facing burial or cremation fees – sometimes in the thousands.
Mrs Harris said: “I’m completely overwhelmed by what we’ve achieved.
“It shows what you can do with determination and when you do something from the heart.
“The support we’ve had for the campaign has been phenomenal.”
News of the victory was greeted with delight by campaigners.
During our coverage of the battle to scrap the fees we spoke to Melissa Watkin, who lost two children.
To pay the £3,000 funeral bill she took out a loan, which charged so much interest she is still paying it off.
And when daughter Sophia-Grace Karen died at just eight weeks in 2016, only help from Melissa’s parents stopped her being buried in a pauper’s grave.
When we spoke to her in January this year, Melissa said: “I was left in absolute dire straits when I lost my children. I hardly had a penny to my name and had no idea how I was going to pay the funeral costs.
“Theresa May has to listen.”
And now the PM has listened, Melissa, 35, said: “This is the best news. I couldn’t be happier.
“I am still in debt after being forced to take loan to bury one of my children – I’m just so pleased no other parent will be left in the same crippling predicament.”
Single Mum, Melissa, was heart broken after her son, Christian-Lee was stillborn in December 2014.
She was left with no choice but to take out a loan to pay for the funeral bill.
The interest was so high it more than doubled the debt she owed and she still had £1500 left outstanding, which she has to pay from her benefits.
“Losing my son was so incredibly hard but then having to go into debt meant I was left virtually poverty stricken. It compounded the pain I felt and it makes me so angry that I’m still paying the loan off over three years later.
“I’m just so pleased no other Mum will have to endure what I’ve gone through and still trying to manage.
Melissa lost a second baby, Sophia-Grace Karen in 20016 when she was just eight months old. Unable to afford another loan, Melissa’s parents stepped in to stop their granddaughter being buried in a paupers grave.
“But the guilt I felt that I couldn’t afford my own daughter’s burial was huge and it just added to the pain I was already suffering.
“No parent should be left to feel like and now they won’t. Thanks to the sheer hard work of the Sunday Mirror and Carolyn Harris.”
The Sunday Mirror also spoke to Melissa Higgs, who was landed with a £700 bill to bury her beloved baby boy Jack.
She said of the fees victory: “This is the best news. It’s absolutely amazing. I can’t thank the Sunday Mirror enough.
“Losing a child is the most painful thing a parent can endure but then to be lumbered with a bill you can’t afford is just awful.
“Funeral charges for children should never have been in place and now the right thing has finally been done.
“When Jack died I thought my heart would break but by highlighting my son’s case and achieving this it makes me so proud his death wasn’t completely in vain.”
Jack was just eight months old when he died three years ago after getting tangled up in sheets in his cot.
Melissa, 29, of Doncaster, South Yorks, was then told it would cost £700 for the burial.
The mum – who has a son Blake, five, and last week gave birth to Elsie-May – went on: “I couldn’t afford it, I kept thinking I wouldn’t be able to bury him.”
Since our campaign launched, a number of local authorities have cancelled the charges.
Just this week, the leader of Wakefield Council got in touch with the Sunday Mirror to tell us his authority was backing the campaign.
Councillor Peter Box, said: “Wakefield Council is fully behind the Sunday Mirror’s campaign to scrap child burial fees and I have instructed officers that, with immediate effect from this week, there will be no charges for child burials and cremations.
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Source : http://metro.co.uk/2018/04/01/heartbroken-parents-will-no-longer-face-huge-bills-bury-young-children-7432122/amp/
Source : https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/cruel-child-burials-fees-axed-12284136